Editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia recently spoke at Harvard University, with an in-depth talk both observing & critiquing the fashion industries perception of “thinness”, and what has become the norm. In the past, Franca has blogged extensively about this issue, and her speech displayed and developed her aims and goals with this issue.
Discussing this issue with the insight of one who sees all from an insider’s point of view, Franca said “According to numerous psychiatrists, in fact, the current inclination to embrace a female beauty standard that exalts thinness has devastating consequences on many adolescents’ eating habits. And this is where fashion comes into play, alongside models, fashion magazines and everything regarding aesthetics. What lead us to establish that thin is beautiful and that thinness is the aesthetic code we should follow? Why the age of supermodels, who were beautiful and womanly, slowly started decreasing and we now have still undeveloped adolescents with no sign of curves? Why is this considered beautiful? Marylin Monroe, Liz Taylor and Sophia Loren today would appear in our Curvy channel and be defined shapely.”
Even though fashion editors and such have spoke out about this issue before, Franca seems to embrace this issue with a true desire to change, discussing other factors on top of the fashion industry, that lead to eating disorders & the mediums by which they spread, rather then simply address the issue a few times for publicity reasons. Stating “What has really happened? Trends change also regarding aesthetics, and today we accept such standards as the most normal thing. And this is a negative example. We cannot generalize, of course, and accuse the girls we see walking runways of being anorexic. They are still undeveloped. And are taken as role-models, for instance by girls who may already have personal issues and are therefore easily influenced. And fashion becomes one of the causes. One of the most disturbing aspects of the spread and globalization of Eating Disorders is the employment of the web to convey cultural models that emphasize thinness though websites that promote pathological behaviors aiming at weight control and offer extreme dieting advice. Pro-ana websites, where ana stands for anorexia, are one of the most effective channels to promote the disease especially with adolescents who employ such instrument daily and with extreme skill.”
Currently working on banning pro-ana websites by the law, Franca also released a “Curvy” issue of Vogue last year, that led to the Vogue Curvy Channel. As will always happen, this was met by criticisms, it has also been embraced by many women, editors, and designers alike. Ending her speech, Franca really makes her listeners think, and seeks out change from all of us. I will avidly follow her fight against eating disorders, and I hope we all can contribute in any way we can to support this fight.
“We will do our best, but it will be impossible to fight this widespread idea of thinness all by ourselves. Everybody must do their part, from parents to teachers to the kids themselves who must help those who can’t make it on their own. Young people listen to young people, and they must work hard to find ideas to fight such online criminality urging young people to harm and even kill themselves. Why are we so outraged and disgusted by pedophile sites, and do absolutely nothing against sites that instruct people to cut themselves and feel pain to distract their attention from food, or to throw up and let themselves die? Isn’t this a crime, too? A kind of abuse affecting the weakest?” says Franca on an end note.